HISTORY OF PIRACY
THE LONGEST LIST OF THE LONGEST
STUFF AT THE LONGEST DOMAIN NAME AT LONG LAST
A brief history of piracy.
Piracy became the main occupation for some beginning in
ancient Greece and Rome, around 500 B.C. These early pirates sailed mainly the
Mediterranean Sea in ships that were much smaller than the traditionally thought
of pirate ships. These small boats, called triremes, had a shallow bottom and
were very quick, providing them with the capability to work around the smaller
bays where large ships could not enter easily.
These pirates also weren’t what one would typically
think of when thinking of more modern pirates. They called themselves corsairs
and the group was comprised mainly of Muslims who attacked mostly Christian
ships. Instead of attacking ships for valuables found onboard, they actually
wanted the people on the ships. The people that they captured were usually very
rich and they would be held for ransom. Those that were captured but not very
wealthy had a different fate. They would be taken as slaves and would be forced
to work around the pirate’s ship. The pirates would use a ram on the front of
their ship to attack other ships. They would crash into a ship with these rams
and those called janissaries would climb onto the ship that was being attacked.
The other weapons they used included cannons, swords that were generally curved,
muskets, and daggers.
There were also pirates that sailed in Northern
Europe that called themselves Vikings or Norse Riders. They journeyed along the
North Sea so they could attack British ships with two-edged swords and axes. The
Vikings travelled in long ships that were also very quick and they had a flat
bottom so they could sail upriver. The Vikings and the corsairs both made up the
very beginning of piracy.
When the New World was discovered, pirates began to
make their way to the Caribbean Sea, especially to an area within the sea called
the Spanish Main. It was here that a small, rocky island of Tortuga lay. This is
where pirates built a fort that was heavily guarded with twenty-four sea facing
cannons. No one bothered with the pirates much but the pirates attacked the
merchant ships travelling in the waters very aggressively for the treasure that
they had onboard. Because these ships were very large and slow, it was very easy
for pirates to attack them.
Port Royal was a port that was owned by the British
but became another place for pirates to gather. Because the port was mostly
comprised of pirates, runaway slaves, drunkards, and thieves, the British didn’t
bother the port too much. This harbor was also overseen by a pirate fort and the
pirates used the docks as a hangout and a place where they could exchange their
stolen treasure. In 1692, a huge earthquake demolished Port Royal and many of
the pirates believed this was God serving punishment for the unlawful lives they
The Europeans then began to tire of the pirates.
They wanted to get rid of them and it was also around that time that steamships
were being built. Steamships were much stronger and faster than the other ships
the navies had been using and so it was easier to capture pirates. Although once
the pirates had the better ships, it was now the government that had the
stronger vessels. To add further incentive, large rewards were also given in
exchange for the capture of a pirate.
If a pirate became captured, they would either be given a pardon or be sent to a
British prison. Those that were given pardons were usually the young pirates who
had to agree to give up the life of being a pirate and begin to live a lawful
life. Those that were sent to prison would suffer a terrible end. If they made
it as far as the Newgate Prison in England, they would often die there due to
the filth and disease that ran rampant. Although many pirates wouldn’t even make
it to the prison. After being sentenced, they were generally taken to the
closest American port to be executed.
When they were sent to trial, the judges would
often sentence them very quickly so they could make an example of the captured
pirate to other pirates who were still attacking and plundering. The sentence
the judge gave was mainly for the pirate to be hanged. Once the hanging had
taken place, they would leave the body and wait for the tide to wash it away or
the body would be placed in a metal cage.
Although piracy is much different today, it still
exists. Modern-day pirates attack during the night by climbing onboard another
ship using ropes. Within a few minutes they can steal all of the treasure on a
ship. They also rely more on strategic planning rather than using violent force.
Although they still use weapons, they are machine guns, automatic rifles, and
speedboats rather than swords and axes.
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